KATAPS IS NOT BEING FAIR TO THE GOVERNOR – Media Aide
In the previous edition, Worldview Magazine featured an exclusive chat with Comrade JJ Kataps, who said among other things that Ministries and Parastatals have collapse under Governor Ishaku’s administration. However, in this interview, the Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Media & Publicity, Bala Dan-Abu countered some of these allegations. He spoke with Jethro Yerga,
WV: In an exclusive interview with Worldview Magazine recently, Kataps alleged that Ministries and parastatals have collapsed under Governor Darius Dickson Ishakus’s administration. He specifically maintained that there is no running cost for the ministries, pensioners are being owed and most still, there are road projects whose completion can better be imagined. What is your take on this?
JJ Kataps is not being fair to the governor. He was one of the staunch supporters of His Excellency for a very long time but because of some political decisions that did not go down well for him in the state, he decided to change camp and then starts criticizing the system.
How will he say that ministries have collapsed? Collapsed in which sense? The ministries are in place. The commissioners are there with their Permanent Secretaries doing their jobs, running their ministries on daily basis.
Most of the projects been executed by this administration are being done under these ministries. So how will he now say that Ministries and parastatals in the state have collapse? Which of them?
To say that they are not getting running cost is not also true. As a matter of fact, they are receiving running cost. It may not be as frequently as it was at the beginning of the administration about a year ago, but that is because of the financial situation, which is a global issue that is beyond Nigeria.
States are no longer getting as much money as they used to get in the past. In the midst of this global situation, how does he expect the government to meet all these financial obligations including payment of salaries?
The governor in his wisdom has decided to prioritized some of these things following the global financial challenge at the moment. He may not be paying running cost for some ministries every month but that does not mean that the payment has stopped. This is because, ministries cannot be paid at the same time. The payment has been rationalized and distributed in such a way that those who get this month will have to exercise patience in the next month and those who get in the next month will also exercise patient in the following month so that every ministry and parastatal can get.
But whatever is due for them is always recorded in their favour and when the situation improves, they are paid in arrears. So to say that the government has stopped giving running cost completely is unfair. He just wants to blackmail the administration and this administration cannot be blackmailed because most of the issues he raised are already in the public domain and very body is looking at them. The administration is very open, very straight forward and highly desirous that everybody should taste the benefit of governance.
WV: What about the pensioners that he said are not been paid?
What the government does now is that every month, there is a certain amount of money that is set aside for payment of pensioners. But everybody who is a beneficiary cannot be paid at the same time. So there is machinery for selecting beneficiaries who should be paid every month. The governor has ensured that the process of selecting who to be paid for each month is free and fair. But you know, the money has accumulated for many years.
The governor inherited it. The backlog has to be cleared and the government does not have enough money to be paying everybody on the same day or in the same month. So the Payment is being rationalized in such a way that a system exist whereby, people are selected every month and paid.
Recently, we invited some of the pensioners in the state to come and bare their minds about what the government is doing as regard payment of their pensions and they testified before the press that they have been paid their pensions monthly. But the gratuity involves a large sum of money. That is why it’s been rationalized in such a way that people are selected and paid monthly.
If JJ Kataps wants to be a politician, he should join politics. He should not play politics with the welfare of the people. We don’t accept a situation where somebody will just come to the media to just blackmail the administration just because he doesn’t agree with some of the political decision that the administration may have taken. He has his personal grudges and he is carrying it against the governor and it is very unfair.
WV: What will you say about the allegation that the four billion naira that has been sunk into the Green Farm Project is a waste?
There is nothing that is waste here. The governor has said on several occasions that the administration has been frustrated by the Central Bank. There was a loan that the governor was supposed to access to continue with that project which was denied by the bank. That is part of the problem. So to now say that the project is a waste is really amusing.
A lot of people have benefitted from the project and some are still benefitting from it up till now. It has given jobs to many people. It produces high grade vegetables for local consumption. In fact, the project is presently serving as a research ground for research agencies, Taraba State University Jalingo and other institutions in the state. Aside these, the farm is producing high grade vegetables which are been sold in different markets in and around the state.
WV: Is the farm functioning?
You need to go there and see things for yourself. The farm is running well but it requires some assistance owing to its importance in the state and beyond. That is why I want to use this opportunity to appeal to some related Federal Government Agencies to assist the administration in sustenance and maintenance of the project owing to its importance in the state.
WV: Can you react to the allegation that some of the government companies in the state for example, Taraba Motel, Trade fair complex, Taraba State Micro Finance Bank etc are rotting away and some are not in proper shape of operation?
Some people have forgotten that this administration has revived some of the moribund companies that it inherited. Most of these companies were not in operation when the government came on board. Even the Mambilla Beverage Nigeria Limited was not functioning properly when this administration came on board seven years ago.
It is this same administration that revived the company that is now highly productive today making profit every day. Many of these companies were activated by the administration. We are not saying that all of these companies are revived, but most of them are revived and they are doing well.
WV: React to the allegation that the governor has failed to make up time to visit victims of the various crises in the state.
People have lost memory of the situation that prevailed and the time that this administration came on board. At the time that this administration came on board, several communities were at war with one another. There were a lot of communal crises which was worsened by the herdsmen farmers’ crisis. The administration confronted all these challenges frontally and resolved them.
Today you don’t have all these crises any more.
The one that we have now is the one that is affecting virtually every part of the country which is kidnapping and arm banditry which is not even as high, compare to other states of the country. This is because the government has been very proactive towards defending the lives and property of the good people of the state.
The government has been working cordially with all the security agencies in the state to secure the state. There are security meetings virtually on weekly bases. The government has also provided logistics for the security agencies including other things that they need to combat insecurity in the state.
JJ Kataps has in the recent time, becomes the mouth piece of the aggrieved politicians in the state. People who feel that they have not been treated fair by their rating. That is the role he is playing now. He should try as much as possible and understand that there is a different between the role of a labour leader and the role of a political leader. These are two different things and if he wants to combine the two, he is making the mess of himself.
WV: Why is it that, the administration has decided to enlist Mambilla Beverages Company Limited for privatization at the time that it is just left with less than ten months to go?
The decision is taken in order to save the companies against uncertainties of the future under new political administration. The fact that the company is making profit now doesn’t mean that it will continue to make profit especially that if the person who is going to take over the state is not interested in giving the company the kind of attention the present administration has being giving.
We all know that government is not very good in managing some of these companies. On several fora, the governor has made it publicly that all these companies that the administration has reactivated are going to be privatized because if they are not privatized before he hands them over to the next governor, the person may not share the same philosophy with him. He is also not sure whether the companies would continue to perform well as they are doing now. He had always said so. Even when he was reviving some of those companies, he was always saying that he had the intention of privatizing them.
So what the government is trying to do is completely different from what people are saying. All that the government is doing is for public interest and the people’s argument are not based on sound and cogent reasons.
WV: Has the government followed due process in the privatization process of the Mambilla Beverages Company Limited? They argued that the State House of Assembly has to be notified and the resolution has to be sent to Nigeria Stock Exchange where it will be published for individuals who wish to purchase shares to also know.
This administration is highly law abiding and will never do anything that is illegal. It is the government which is made up of people who really know what they are doing and if a company is going to be privatized, definitely the law guiding that must be followed from the beginning to the end.
The government will continue to act under sound legal advice in the entire process. Every legal step that is supposed to be followed would be followed to the later. Nobody should expect that the government is going to do anything illegal concerning privatization of the company. EVerything will be done according to the law of the land.
WV: What is the Governor’s message to the people of the state?
Taraba State is going to be thirty-one on the 27th of this month and the governor is very happy about it. As such, he is using this opportunity to thank the people for their support because this is going to be the last of anniversaries of the administration that he will be marking before he step-down as the Executive Governor of the State. This means something special to him and he is using this opportunity to thank people for their support.
He is using this opportunity to tell people to continue to support the state and he is also using it to assure the people that his administration has done a lot and is also going to do much more before he leaves office so as to build a legacy that the people will continue to treasure forever.
The government is wishing Tarabans a happy 31st anniversary of Taraba State.